Jared Spool’s recent talk titled “Anatomy of a Design Decision” really consolidated my thinking about approaches to design. I’m often having to work out how much user research is needed to achieve the insights needed for good design. I also have to balance this against the budget of the client. Its a question of how much to do up front before we start designing and how much to do later once the redesign work is earning returns. Jared’s design decision approaches really help focus me.
In particular I’ve found Genius Design is a very valid approach in situations where we want to apply solid experience and known patterns to the design problem and get the new design out there earning results for the client. You don’t want to waste valuable time and money redesigning something that is proven to work well.
Even in the most complex jobs, there will be an opportunity to use this approach to solve some basic design problems. Using Genius design patterns then frees up time and resources to focus research and design time on the really hard problems and often the ones that show the company’s competitive advantage.
Serving the needs of web development in Christchurch, our local market, we also cater to smaller jobs than we’d seek out nationally and internationally. In this case the problems and needs are often more basic and the budgets smaller. When used properly, Genius Design provides a lot of leverage. Just recently, I removed user research from a quote altogether because Genius Design alone would give significant gains to the client and we had very strong pattern and domain knowledge in that industry area.
I used to be of the view that all good design must involve user research. I subscribed to “The user is not you” and that researching your users is vital to getting the right design and the design right. But companies like 37 Signals and Apple have proven that there are other successful paths to design and Jared Spool does a good job of laying those out for us.